Sunday, January 10, 2010

California Vacation

We spent two weeks in lovely California – split between Los Angeles and San Francisco. My boss said it’s the land of fruit and nuts (meaning ‘wackos’). My memories are of the Palm Beach Mountains where we played in the snow, riding sleds and going up and down the tramway. It was a good holiday to meet relatives after not seeing them for so long. My wife and kids finally got to meet the folks. It’s the 5th biggest economy in the world as someone has said and one just see it in the labyrinth highways crisscrossing the state. Most Californians seem to drive 2 to 4 hours everyday to and from work.

Listening to Hunter Thompson book ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ seems an apt thing to do while driving down the Pacific Coast highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles. It was a hair raising drive along the wind swept cliff hugging roads and seeing the beautiful houses in the hills, hidden back in the mountains of Big Sur and always the waves lapping the white beaches seen in the great cliffs of the coast. I was reminded of some pictures I have seen about the English coast with stretches of desolate beaches amides the winds and surf. Someday I hope to live there possible somewhere in Monterrey like Carmel by the Sea.

Thompson’s book reeks of the craziness brought about by drugs, alcohol and a hedonistic lifestyle. Brilliantly creative and destructive all at once seem to caricature the Californian lifestyle. The boom and bust cycles reverberate where the rich in Orange County declare bankruptcy and with the economy strong enough to stand with the likes of China and Japan but strangely in the brink of insolvency. It’s a wild ride with superstars in Hollywood and first rate museums and well known writers like John Steinbeck and Jack London living side by side in lore. Also, perhaps of F. Scott Fitzgerald drinking himself to oblivion while writing screenplays for the movie studios after losing his talent many years ago.

California is the future as some say with the aggressive citizenry and state’s rights, with people voting for gay rights, capping local county taxes, selling marijuana and with a governor straight out of Hollywood. It’s like creativity is naturally in the air. Going to the Getty Museum up in the Santa Monica hills without paying a cent (except for parking) and looking at the incredible displays is something that one cannot do anywhere in the world. Ah to live in California with all its hectic living, diversity in races and diversity in natural resources seems like a dream. Hopefully, these can be yearly visits where we can spend the Christmas season with relatives and enjoy the freedom to exist in one of the interesting states in the union.

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